5. Wealth Then and Now

The good soil that made Williamson County a place worth fighting and dying over in the late 18th century turned into the backbone of a prosperous community. By the time of the Civil War, the picture of the county then has some unexpectedly specific parallels to the present.

By the time of the war, Franklin was the main town and county seat of the larger and growing agricultural community. Today, the county is known for its wealth and schools, with it regularly ranking among the 20 wealthiest counties in the country, and its schools regularly ranking among the best in the state.

By 1861, Williamson County had grown to be the third-wealthiest in the state of Tennessee. Its riches were “derived from its productive soil, timber and livestock.” It had been a desirable place to settle, “possibly its fame could be laid in part to its fine schools dotting the countryside,” according to the Tennessee Encyclopedia. Franklin and Triune were noted for their male and female academies. The Tennessee Female College, for instance, which existed on Fourth Avenue South in Franklin from 1854 to 1916.

Of course, as in much of the south, the war and then Reconstruction changed everything.